Wrestling the Octopus: how to avoid writing a novel

At a certain point, a novel-in-progress starts to get a tad unwieldy. When you begin, you have a blank screen and the boundless enthusiasm of a puppy. After a few months you have a mountain of scrap paper scrawled with half-finished paragraphs and synopsis drafts, screeds of ideas jotted down and pinned all over the walls in your office, […]

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Heartbeat

I have one beautiful daughter, but making her wasn’t simple. I lost two pregnancies before conceiving her, and three after her, while trying for a second. I started this story years ago and dug it out and finished it just today. It attempts to put into words my belief that our children will always be […]

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Dandelion Clocks

It’s nearly spring; my favourite time of year. I wrote this story after I had witnessed my precious cat Lucy being run over in front of me. I wanted to commemorate her in some way, and I also wanted to reflect on the immense power that throwaway words and small gestures can have, particularly when […]

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Beginnings

I’m going home next June. I was born in Northern Ireland, and lived with my Protestant minister father and my mother and two siblings in County Armagh, just by the border. In the seventies (yes I am that old) South Armagh was known as “bandit country” because it was such a dangerous place to be during […]

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Choosing a Title

A short thought today on titles – specifically, choosing one for your story or novel or poem. Each time I start a new post here I am invited to fill in the “Title” section at the top. I used to struggle with this. I tried to come up with something creative and intriguing and clever, […]

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Flowers

This, for better or for worse, is the “crap but short” story I referred to in yesterday’s post. I just sat down and wrote the first thing that came into my head. What emerged was an unintentional mini-meditation on the issues preoccupying me at the moment: love and sadness, regrets and hopes, the dream state, […]

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Tell Me On a Sunday, Please

I don’t often pick up the phone on a Sunday. I prefer to cloister myself at home, with no intrusion from the outside world. If it’s important they’ll leave a message or call my mobile, I reason. I don’t answer my mobile unless the caller ID announces a friend to whom I feel like talking. […]

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The Girl Behind The Bar

I entered this story in a competition a few months ago. Today I found out how I went. Read my next post to find out… The Girl Behind The Bar The girl behind the bar, her face tight like a punch, takes my order. She grips at the tap with a grubby thumb, her blonde […]

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Descent

We stand together looking at the view. It is more impressive than a Monet, as shattered as a Picasso. I try to tell him this but he interrupts. I may know nothing about “art,” he says, using his fingers as quotation marks, but in my very humble opinion that tree is an eye, that sand […]

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Of Grief and Naked Bottoms

I’ve just been published in a New Zealand literary journal called JAAM. The 2013 issue, JAAM 31, was officially launched on Friday night. For those of you new to my blog who may not have trawled through all my fiction yet, I’m going to post the story here again. I edited it quite a bit before […]

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